Difference Between Black Bear and Brown Bear

Bears are a very peculiar species of mammals, and although a bear might not look intimidating, it can be violent sometimes. Naturally, bears are omnivores and have a habit of attacking Humans when they feel threatened by their presence. Among the various types of Bears, Brown bears and black bears must be mentioned.

Black Bear Vs Brown Bear

The main difference between black and brown bears is that, sometimes, black bears can also be some shades of brown, and similarly some brown bears can be very dark brown which might even appear black. Thus differentiating both the species with just through eyes can often be deceiving to the common eye.

Black Bear vs Brown Bear

Black bears are majorly found in the Northern hemisphere, the American subcontinent.  They are mostly active in the absence of the sun, that is before sunrise and after sunset. While birth, they weigh more than a pound. Black bears have a life span of about 20-25 years. Black bears have an excellent sense of smell.

Brown bears are also found in the Northern hemispheric countries like U.S, Europe, and some Asian countries. Brown bears go to hibernation for 5 – 6 months every year, and they drop a lot of their body weight during the hibernation period. Brown bears are often found in grasslands and coastlands.

Comparison Table Between Black Bear And Brown Bear

Parameters of ComparisonBlack BearBrown Bear
Scientific Name
The scientific name of the black bear is Ursus americanus.The scientific name of the brown bear is Ursus arctos.
WeightBlack bears can range in weight between 150-300 kg.Brown bears can range in weight between 250kg to 400kg.
HeightAverage height of black bears ranges from 3 feet to 7 feet.The average height of Brown bears ranges from 5 feet to 10 feet.
Alteration of the bodyThey drop around 30% of their body weight during torpor.They can lose up to 40% of their body weight during hibernation.
Mode of regulating HypothermiaBlack bears can have daily torpors or hibernate.Brown bears hibernate for about 5 to 6 months.

What is a Black Bear?

The scientific name of the black bear is Ursus americanus. Black Bears are omnivorous mammals. They are the shortest bear species to be existing in North America. They have the ability to climb trees as they have shorter nails , the length of the nail is 1 inch.

Black bears can have their state of torpor. Torpors are the state of the daily hibernation period where the body regulates hunger and temperature. Torpors can be short-term like daily torpor, or they can be long-term ( hibernation). The average weight of black bears is around 150-300 kgs.

Some black bears are found in shades of brown. Black Bears are built short, as they live in a habitat where they need to climb trees, removes logs and bushes. The height of black bears ranges from 5 feet to 8 feet. A black bear nurses it’s cub for about 18 months. Their claws are non-retractable and the print is below the inside toe, it’s a black bear. Black bears’ ears stick straight up, They also have a straight “Roman nose” facial profile. The height of black bears can be anywhere ranging from more than 3 feet to 7 feet.

What is a Brown Bear?

The scientific name of Brown bear is Ursus arctos. Brown bears are also Omnivorous animals and they hibernate for 5 to 7 months. During this time, their body temperates drops and the hunger is reduced. Black bear’s average has a weight range of about 250kg to 400kg.

However, their size can fluctuate during and after the hibernation period. Brown Bears can spend up to 14 hours per day hunting for food. Brown bears are often confused with Grizzly Bears. Although they are of the same species, recently grizzly bears are considered subspecies.

Brown bears are very often in the coastal regions of Alaska, near grasslands and salmon-filled streams. They have long nails of about 2-3 inches. They have long nails due to their habitat of digging holes in the ground. They have a hump on their shoulder due to their habit of digging burrows which helps them to dig. Brown bears do not eat humans, but however, if they feel threatened or feel invaded in their territory by human presence, they will attack violently.

Main Differences Between Black Bears And Brown bears.

  1. Both are bears are different species. The scientific name of the black bear species is Ursus americanus and that is brown bear is Ursus arctos.
  2. Black bears have straight and short claws due to their adaptation for climbing trees whereas brown bears have Long and curvy claws for digging the grounds.
  3. Black bears go to torpor where Brown bears go into Hibernation. Torpor is short and daily hibernation periods for a very short term, and hibernation is for long term usually for months.
  4. The average height of black bears range from 3 feet to 7 feet and the Average height of Brown bears ranges from 5 feet to 10 feet.
  5. The general weight range of Black is between 150-300 kg while that of Brown Bear’s is 250kg to 400kg.


Both brown bears and black bears are found in Alaska. Although being different species, they have many similarities. Both the species have a great speed of over 30-40km an hour. So running away from a bear is never a wise option. Brown bears and black bears, both are omnivorous animals. Both the species are very territorial and will attack if they feel threatened.

For now, bears do have a stable population but hunting them is seen as a major game in North America which may lead to endangerment of the species in a few years. Browns bears can be found in a wider geographical area than black bears. Both of the species have a lifespan of 20-30 years, and both the bear’s cubs are born blind first. At present about the population of brown bears is 110,000 brown bears and that of black bears is approximately 800,000.


  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09397140.1999.10637777
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3830833
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